Tag Archives: WP668

New WP668 Caboose Photo from 1974


Thanks to Don Marenzi for identifying this photo of WP668 (the caboose in our San Jose backyard). The picture is by Eric Bracher, published in the January 1974 NMRA Bulletin (p.12). This is the first picture of WP668 we have found in her Western Pacific orange and silver colors!  Here is a more current photo:


Images Copyright 1974 by Eric Bracher, and 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Easter Egg Hunt 2014


This morning was our annual backyard Easter Egg Hunt – a very popular event among our friends, family, and neighbors. About 15 children (ages 18 months to 21 years) joined the search for hundreds of plastic eggs filled with chocolate candies. For the adults, there were two specially hidden eggs: gold and silver. Only the following poems gave clues to their locations:

I know a bed where the wild thyme blows,
Where iris and nodding rosemary grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious lemondrops,
With sweet musk-roses and with nasturtium:
There sleep sweet bees sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there snake throws her cold enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

I have 3 guards for my home-place
The same number of eyes and legs between them
They keep for me in a safer space.
One would walk if he were fitted for a mind-Chem
but instead keeps me in the cool.
One is anxious but smiles except when asleep
One at ball’s drop can only drool
One was born only to be buried down deep
Can you find my comfy ark?
Or will you get lost in the barks?

Thanks to the Associate Easter Bunny, my daughter Jessica for her contributions to the poems (from Washington DC), and thanks to Paul and John for helping create today’s festivities! Clara and Paul and Dan teamed up to find the gold and silver eggs – and were rewarded with Peeps Chocolate Eggs for their hunting prowess.

Each Spring, I work for weeks to make our garden a demi-paradise for this event – full of flowers and rock borders suitable for hiding eggs.  Easter coincided this year with the seed storms of the cottonwoods on the Guadalupe River in San Jose. Fluffy white seeds blow over everything like dry snow – so much spiderweb removal was needed, especially on WP668, our backyard caboose.

It is such a joy to watch the children filling their baskets, then re-hiding eggs for each other once the hundreds of eggs hidden in the morning by the Easter Bunny have been collected. A delightful celebration of new life and renewal!







21 April 2014 – On the day after the Easter Egg Hunt, I am still finding eggs in the garden (some after the dogs have chewed them)…


Images Copyright John Plocher and Katy Dickinson

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Shopping in Morocco


Part of my enjoyment in traveling is eating local dishes, seeing what people wear and use in daily life, and shopping accordingly for gifts to take home to family and friends. During my recent visit to Morocco (6-15 March 2014), I purchased a 4’x6′ red kilim vintage Berber rug (in Fez), ceramics (in Rabat), a silver bracelet for my son Paul (in Rabat), and cinnamon spice (hotter than what we get in America), silver earrings for my mother and me, a geode for my nephew Daniel, and leather slippers (in Fez). I also brought home two Fez hats: one for my brother Pete and the other for Jill Finlayson’s husband – since she could not find one before she had to travel home. I am happy with my momentoes and, in the case of my big rug purchase, will enjoy seeing it every day in my WP668 office. I was also a member of the  TechWomen delegation to Morocco in 2011, at which time I also bought rugs in Marrakech.  I am now on a rug diet!




Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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“Positive Women” by Sam Kambali


Last week in Kigali, Rwanda, I was one of the TechWomen delegates who bought a painting at the Inema Art Center gallery. Since my mother, Eleanor Dickinson, and son, Paul D. Goodman, are both artists, I have very little free wallspace. However, I very much liked “Positive Women” by Sam Kambali.  The painting is a collage of carefully-selected strips of African cloth forming the bodies of women, many of whom are raising their arms in salute. “Positive Women” seemed appropriate to the subject of our delegation (encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in STEM fields) and to the energy, enthusiasm, and remarkable professional success of the delegation members themselves. Part of its charm is that this painting incorporates the delightful variety and color of cloth we saw everywhere we went in Rwanda.

I had the gallery take the painting off its stretcher bars so I could transport it rolled up. Today, I brought “Positive Women” home from being re-mounted: my new painting is now hanging in WP668 (my office in our backyard caboose in San Jose, California).  Here  I am in Kigali with Sam Kambali, the artist:



Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Model Train Layout Tours


Yesterday, John and I went to see some of the model train layouts in the San Francisco East Bay as part of the Bay Area Layout Design & Operations Weekend of the Pacific Coast Region-National Model Railroad Association.  As always, there were some hobbyists whose fascination is for precise modeling, others focused on prototypical operations, and a third group who are just having a good time playing with trains.  Some day, we hope that John’s N scale layout in our former garage will be developed enough to be on a operations weekend tour.




Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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We Are Citizen Diplomats


Last month, I attended a reception in San Francisco for IVLP (The International Visitor Leadership Program – the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program). At that event, I sent this tweet:

State Dept Intl Visitors program since 1940s hosted 200,000 to US (7,000 by @IVLPSF) 330 later were heads of state: We are citizen diplomats
07:04 PM – 20 Nov 13 @katy_dickinson

I was surprised when this tweet was redistributed several times.  After each retweet, I considered what it means to be a citizen diplomat. I learned about IVLP through the TechWomen program and the Institute of International Education (IIE West Coast). I was pleased to be an ILVP event host myself – having a group from the Middle East and North Africa for dinner and a WP668 caboose tour in April 2013.

The phrase citizen diplomat was used by the State Department speaker to describe those who support the IVLP program. The State Department website defines citizen diplomacy as:

Citizen Diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right to help shape U.S. foreign relations “one handshake at a time.” Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers or tourists. They are motivated by a desire to engage with the rest of the world in a meaningful, mutually beneficial dialogue.

This week, I have been making travel arrangements for my first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa, as part of the TechWomen delegation to Rwanda in February 2014. This will be my third time as a delegation member, having also traveled to Morocco (2011) and Jordan (2013) with the US State Department’s TechWomen program. While it feels presumptuous to call ourselves so, I think the hundreds of remarkable and generous Silicon Valley women professionals who have served as TechWomen mentors since 2010 are indeed citizen diplomats.

When our 78 mentees from the Middle East and Africa were working with us in October 2013 here in California, the US federal government shut down for 16 days. It was an embarrassing but excellent example of both the good and bad sides of the American democratic system. The bad side was watching some of the world’s elite and most powerful leaders squabbling in public. The good side was watching America continue to function pretty well without them. I imagine the other TechWomen mentors got to discuss all of this as often as I did with our international guests. If that isn’t citizen diplomacy, I don’t know what is.



Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson


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Silicon Valley Lines Holiday Party


John Plocher and I again hosted the Silicon Valley Lines Model Railroad Club holiday party at our home in Willow Glen last weekend. Highlights included visits to John’s N-scale layout (in our former garage), tours of WP668 (our backyard caboose), assembling a G-scale train route in the house, a potluck feast, playing with this year’s Conductor Duck party favor, and other delights of the season.





Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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